(UNDATED) - The latest technology teens are carrying in their pockets can help them earn a college degree.
A new cyber service, Trip To College Alerts by the Indiana Youth Institute (IYI), sends three to four monthly text messages to students 13 and older to prepare them for education after high school. The messages are grade specific and provide information on ACT and SAT test dates, career assessments, scholarship information, financial aid deadlines and other tips on the essential steps to earning a postsecondary education. The texts often direct students to links where they can get more information.
"Many students told me they absolutely wanted to pursue some education after high school, but they were worried they would miss important steps in the process" said Kate Coffman, director of the IYI's Career and College Counseling (C3) initiate "Students need to take several actions over the course of a few years to prepare for post-secondary education. One student said texting was the easiest way to get them the information they need."
Trip To College Alerts communicates with students in the medium they use most. The texts provide information specifically targeted for each student's grade level over the course of the middle and high school years.
According to Pew Research, 83 percent of teens own a cell phone with 54 percent text daily. Yet finding information on a website can be difficult, even for this tech savvy generation. Trip To College Alerts is reaching students by putting the information directly into the mobile phones and tablets they use daily.
Almost 90 percent of students who tested Trip To College Alerts said the information received through the texts was helpful. Students found the alerts made it easy to get a clear idea of what they needed to do to realize their college dreams. All those involved in the test recommended that other students sign up for the service.
The service is another way to "reach middle and high school students where they live," to provide information about the growing importance of achieving some form of education or training after high school as a way to broaden students' career options, said IYI President and CEO, Bill Stanczykiewicz.
"The alerts also provide information about certificate programs, military training, apprenticeships and associate degrees, in addition to the traditional college route, which all open paths to jobs," Stanczykiewicz said. "This is a critical time in Indiana, where the need for a better educated workforce is evident in the tens of thousands of jobs currently available for workers with the right type of education.
We hope Trip To College Alerts helps families gain the knowledge they need to explore all the educational options available for their children, resulting in graduates prepared to meet the demands of the 21st century economy."
To join Trip To College Alerts, students should text the word "grad" and their graduation year to 69979. For example, a senior would text "grad2014" as one word, while a freshman would text "grad2017." Students must be 13 or older to join. Standard texting rates apply and students should have the permission of a parent or guardian to sign up.
Parents and mentors can also join Trip To College Alerts to discuss the messages with their children. All the parents who tested the text alerts found the information helpful and would recommend it to other parents. One parent said it was a better way to get information so she could better support her child's college dreams.
Parents can join multiple campaigns if they have more than one child. They just need to text "grad" and the graduation year of each child separately to 69979. So if parents have an eighth grader and a junior, they would text "grad2018" and then separately text "grad2015." The parents would then receive texts that apply to each child.
In addition to Trip To College Alerts, students are encouraged to visit www.DriveOfYourLife.org, which has grade-specific information about careers and what education is needed for students to obtain their dream job. Parents and students also can visit the college planning website www.TripToCollege.org to find out more about financial aid, steps to college and other tips to make sure their children stay on track for education after high school.
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